Christmas is almost here, and with it a whole host of wonderful family traditions!
Christmas is famously one of the most magical times of year, especially for small children. With so much going on, it can often feel a bit overwhelming trying to attend All The Things and see All The People; there are only so many hours in the day! Sometimes the magic gives way to obligation, however it doesn’t have to. Here are some simple way to infuse magic and share joy this festive season! (and all the festive seasons to come!)
Visit An Aged Care Facility
There is nothing the elderly love more than babies and small children! Bringing a child in to an aged care facility, especially when you’re there to see everyone, is one of the simplest ways to spread joy at Christmas time (or all year around!). Watch as their eyes light up and they spring to life, big ol’ grins on their faces. Sit with them, chat to them, hear their stories; you won’t just make their Christmas, you could very well be the highlight of the entire month. Go a step further and have your child draw a whole bunch of pictures, collect some flowers, or other small token to give out once you arrive – this will ensure the joy continues on long after your departure. This is a classic because I promise everyone involved will end the day feeling happier and lighter (even you!), and it requires so little on your behalf – just a bit of your time. Just call ahead so you know it’s okay and that you won’t be showing up during lunch or shower time!
Before your house fills up with brand new toys this Christmas, do a clean out of the ones you currently have. Are there any still in good condition that no longer get played with or that have been outgrown? Donate them! Charities, womens shelters, or even just for free to those unable to afford Christmas Gifts this year. Books, games, toys, movies, clothes – these are all fair game. You’ll be helping those that need it while also reducing the clutter in your own home. Just remember to only donate if they are in good condition – no one wants broken toys for Christmas!
Another option if you don’t wish to donate your own things is to donate a new gift to a charity that will distribute them to kids in need. There are a whole host of charities that collect brand new and unopened toys for kids at Christmas time, such as the Kmart Wishing Tree and your local women’s shelters. The beauty of the Wishing Tree is that your child can be involved in this one too, from choosing, wrapping, and then delivering the gift. Some other charities to consider include The Smith Family, who have their own online store that you can purchase from directly so there’s no extra effort required on your behalf! Or, if you have a gift (or even unwanted gifts of your own after christmas, like toiletries!), have a look at Givit, an organisation who takes gifts (or donations) and they will match them up with a charity or person who needs them!
Christmas Eve Box
This tradition is finally started to catch on in the mainstream, and with good reason. It’s a beautiful family tradition that makes Christmas Eve all the more special; picture the whole family coming together, laughing, opening their boxes under the tree while carols play in the background. Magic, right? On Christmas Eve, give each member of the family a small box, full of the essentials for the Big Day. Our boxes include a new pair of Christmas pyjamas, a Christmas book, a Christmas movie, a new bauble for the tree, some sneaky sweet treats, and popcorn (for the movie, of course!). Make it unique to your own family – you may include Santa’s key, reindeer food, pretend snow, a countdown board, a game, or something else to bring a bit of magic to the night before. Some people like to give these a bit earlier in the month to make full use of them, just do what’s best for you! There are some beautiful handmade and engraved wooden boxes out there for this, however if they’re a bit out of budget your local dollar store or target will likely have something suitable too (and themed!).
Ah, yes. The lights. Is there anything more magical than driving around at night, a car full of excited squeals and Christmas tunes? Doing this once or twice a week can make all of the difference between a magical Christmas and an average December. Chances are that somewhere nearby there’s The House, too; you know the one – The House that looks like it came straight from the North Pole. Lights galore, window displays, music – the works. If you’re lucky they may even hand out candy canes and glow sticks (like our local one does!) or have visits from Santa! These wonderful people do this at their own expense and create lifelong memories for families. I can still remember the Gracelands lights from when I was a child, can still feel the magic and remember my awe-struck face every year. Find your local House and pay them a visit; being able to get out and be amongst the grandeur makes it all the more magical.
Make Bake Create
There’s no shortage of inspiration available for this one – Pinterest, i’m looking at you. This one is a double winner, because anything you make (or bake) can then be gifted on from the children! Baking cookies, mugs of hot chocolate, gingerbread houses, Santa pictures, making ornaments – the list is endless. Consider letting the grandparents take charge of this one; they get to spend quality time with their grandkids, and you get both time to yourself and no clean up duties – win win!
Hopes & Dreams Jar
Get together one evening and talk about the year that was. What stands out, what did they love, how did they grow, where did you go? Make a list of all of the things you’re thankful for about the past year and all of the things you want to remember, and pop them all in to a jar. Likewise, create another jar full of all of the things you hope for the year to come. What you would like to do, where you would like to go, and pop this jar in your Christmas Eve box to be read at the end of the following year. I wonder how many you’ll be able to tick off?
Write A Letter
No, not to Santa, although that too if that’s your thing. Write a letter to your children. If they’re young, they likely won’t remember much of this time when they’re grown, and let’s be honest, nor will you by then. Write each of them a letter, write about your year together, how you feel, what they’re like right now, what you hope for their future. Seal it, but don’t give it to them. Put it away for when they’re grown, for when they’re in need of a little Christmas magic, and you can bust them out together. There’s nothing like a trip down memory lane to share the joy.
With all of the craft or baking you may have done, chances are you will have plenty left over. Package them up nicely, pop a note in, and take your children for a walk around the neighbourhood. Pop them in the mailboxes of your neighbours, gifting them a little bit of homemade love this season. Brownie points if you can find the homes that may need the extra cheer, such as an elderly person living alone, or someone you know has had a rough year. You will likely make their day, spread the joy, and hey, you may even get some brand new friends out of it. In a time of disconnection with our local neighbourhood, this small act can make such a difference.
There are a lot of hard working people who don’t get time off at Christmas – in fact, they get even busier. Bake some cookies or delicious treats and deliver them to local emergency services, hospitals (this works for the people admitted to hospital too!), even make doggy treats to take to the local animal shelter. Try to gauge numbers first, so that no one has to miss out!
Instead of an advent calendar full of more toys, consider a kindness advent, where every day you do an act of kindness. How about a craft advent, with a different craft activity every day. A book advent, with each day giving a brand new book or reading a new chapter. A movie advent, a letter advent, a Christmas light advent. The options are endless and the beauty is they can all be adapted for families of all ages.
When we put up our Christmas tree and decorate our home, it’s a whole event. There are carols and lights and snacks and Santa hats, and we always finish the day off (once the job is done!) by visiting Hunter Valley Gardens for their Christmas light spectacular. You may like to go for a drive on the hunt for Christmas lights, or have a big family dinner, or settle down under your tree to watch a Christmas movie together. Whatever you do, do it together.
This works best for the big family gatherings, but can also be a whole lot of fun for just your kids, too. Instead of a pile of gifts under the tree, have one – the first clue. Lead your entourage on a fun-filled scavenger hunt around your home, using Christmas themed hints to help them find the gold (/presents) at the end! Clues like ‘Where ginger bread men spring to life, you’ll find your next clue’ keep it simple and fun, and watch as it builds up the excitement with every clue they find. Make it age appropriate, a few clues for younger ones and gradually add more as they grow.
What other traditions do you have to make your Christmas magical? Let’s all endeavour to spread joy this season. If you implement any of these ideas, we would love to see them! Please tag us on Insta so we can share your joy with you. Merry Christmas!